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New York senator wants paid family and medical leave for U.S. workers

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19 2013 4:00 a.m. MST

And it’s not just paid leave. Sherk said that the FMLA, which became law in 1994, suffers widespread abuse from employers who want to get out of undesirable shifts, or take an impromptu vacation. Hospitals, he said, have had problems with nurses avoiding work on holidays, forcing more senior nurses to scramble to fill gaps.

He points to a 2006 survey by the U.S. Labor Department, in which employers reported widespread abuse of the FMLA.

“The major complaint employers have is ‘chronic conditions,’ like back pain,” Sherk said. “And if you know what you are doing you just say ‘ouch’ and qualify for a chronic condition. And once you have a chronic on record, you can say it’s hurting whenever you want.”

Glynn disputes Sherk’s skepticism. She argues that the 2006 survey was a self-selected group of employers who had a beef with the system. A much more systematic study completed by the Labor Department in 2012 found abuse to be extremely rare, she said.

Likewise, the track record of family and medical leave insurance in California and New Jersey — both of which user employer payroll deductions — has been very positive. New Jersey has even adjusted its payroll deductions downward because claims have been lower than expected.

In California, surveys show employers are have not found the system disruptive. Asked if they were aware of instances of abuse, 91 percent of California employers said no, identical to the 91 percent who said that the system had no effect or a positive effect on profitability, performance and morale, in a survey conducted by the Center for Economics and Policy Research.

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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